Book Forum at Washington’s historic Army and Navy Club

Posted by Michael Putzel • February 29, 2016

Author’s book talk and audience discussion of The Price They Paid by Michael Putzel

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Wine and Cheese Reception – 6:30 p.m. | Speaker – 7 p.m. | $12 per person

The Price They Paid: Enduring Wounds of War is the stunning and dramatic true story of a legendary helicopter commander in Vietnam and the troops who followed him into the most intensive helicopter warfare ever. Michael Putzel, a distinguished American journalist who covered the war for 2 ½ years, recounts how that brutal experience has changed their lives in the forty years since the war ended.

Tickets available by calling Stephanie at (202) 355-0496 or for purchase at the door.

A fateful day

Posted by Michael Putzel • February 10, 2016

Forty-five years ago today, February 10, 1971, I lost a dear friend and mentor. Our journalism profession lost not only my friend, Henri Huet of The Associated Press, but three other esteemed comrades when their helicopter was shot down over Laos.

By the time he died at 43, Henri had already shot some of the most remarkable and memorable war photographs of his time. Among those killed with him, Larry Burrows of LIFE magazine had similarly captured images that spoke volumes about the agony and devastation of war. Two younger, but also gifted photographers, Keisaburo Shimamoto of Newsweek and Kent Potter of UPI, went down with them. Hardly noticed was another young photographer, a gentle South Vietnamese army sergeant named Tu Vu, who sold some of his best work to […] READ MORE

A documentary portrays the pain of PTSD

Posted by Michael Putzel • February 05, 2016

A young woman who grew up with her father’s PTSD has tracked down some of his fellow soldiers for a short documentary that captures the agony of wartime injuries that won’t go away.



Kara Frame, a multimedia intern at National Public Radio (NPR), produced and directed I Will Go Back Tonight, a 20-minute video that combines images of young infantrymen whose company was overwhelmed by an enemy force in Vietnam with present-day interviews of some of the survivors and their families.


The 90 men of Charlie Company, 1st Mechanized Battalion, 5th Infantry, accompanied by armored personnel carriers, their “tracks,” entered the Ben Cui rubber plantation the morning of August 21, 1968, knowing they were in for a fight. They didn’t know the force awaiting them about 40 miles north of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, was perhaps […] READ MORE

The Price They Paid named among “the best of the best”

Posted by Michael Putzel • December 28, 2015

 Foreward Reviews, a quarterly magazine that reviews books published by independent publishing houses, selected The Price They Paid: Enduring Wounds of War by Michael Putzel as one of only four works of nonfiction favored by its reviewers as the best books of 2015.

The book, published by Trysail Publishing, is among “the best of the best: the books our reviewers loved most in 2015,” Foreward said.

“This vivid account of Vietnam War helicopter battles reveals bravery of allied forces who encountered insurmountable odds during a time when American political and public support for the war all but ended,” wrote reviewer Karl Helicher: He called the book “a haunting portrayal of how PTSD affected men then and now, decades after the war.”

The Price They Paid: Enduring Wounds of War is the dramatic, true story of one […] READ MORE

When trauma comes home

Posted by Michael Putzel • December 18, 2015

A story by Eli Saslow in The Washington Post starkly illustrates how trauma can devastate victims and their families far from any battlefield.

A survivor’s life

Two Condor pilots killed in crash

Posted by Michael Putzel • December 06, 2015

C Troop, 2/17 Cavalry, has lost few pilots since the Vietnam War, when it endured the most intensive helicopter warfare ever. One pilot was killed in Afghanistan but none during multiple tours of duty in Iraq. Then came the sad announcement on Friday, identifying the two crewman flying an AH64 Apache attack helicopter that crashed on a training mission near Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where the Condors of C Troop are based.

The cause of the fatal crash of the most advanced fighting machine the Condors have ever flown is under investigation.


From: Ernesto, Andrew C CPT USARMY 101 CAVN BDE (US)

Sent: Friday, December 4, 2015 3:42 PM
To: kensmith150 <>
Subject: Loss of 2 Condor Pilots

Condor Alumni,

It is with a heavy heart that I inform you of the loss of two of […] READ MORE

A cure for PTSD?

Posted by Michael Putzel • November 10, 2015

Among the most frustrating aspects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the poor recovery rate of those who suffer, often for years or even decades.

The Department of Veterans Affairs–VA–has approved several methods of treating the stubborn, disabling psychological and physiological symptoms of the usually invisible war wound, but none of the various tactics has proven particularly effective.
The journal Pharmacy & Therapeutics has reported that nearly nine out of ten veterans treated for PTSD are given one or more drugs in a class known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, better known by brand names such as Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft.

A wide array of those and other prescription drugs are frequently tried in combination “cocktails” because symptoms and results vary widely. Antidepressants and antianxiety medications may be used along with antipsychotics, painkillers, sleeping pills, stimulants […] READ MORE

Connecticut Lions distribute The Price They Paid to local school systems

Posted by Michael Putzel • October 30, 2015

Robert Howard II was four years old when an American commander in Vietnam wrote him a letter telling him his father had died bravely in battle. The boy’s father had been a hometown sports hero, and the son grew up trying to emulate a man he never really knew.

As an adolescent, Robert II turned bitter and self-destructive, using illegal drugs to ease the pain and anger he blamed on having lost the hero father who left only a shadow that seemed to follow the young man everywhere. The boy was destined for disaster. In fact, a drug-induced seizure nearly killed him two days shy of the twentieth anniversary of his father’s death on Hamburger Hill.

Robert Howard II signing copies of a book that includes his story of growing up without a father

The angry […] READ MORE

The Man Who Saved a President

Posted by Michael Putzel • October 10, 2015

WASHINGTON–Jerry Parr, the quiet, quick-thinking bodyguard who saved President Ronald Reagan’s life in the minutes after an attempted assassination, has died at 85. I don’t write news or obits anymore, but I got to know Parr after the events of that fateful day brought us together.

I was the Associated Press White House correspondent covering Reagan that day at what was expected to be a routine speech in the basement ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel, 1.4 miles north of the presidential mansion. As soon as the speech ended, those of us traveling in the motorcade scampered up the steps and out onto the Hilton’s private drive to watch Reagan come out a door reserved for VIPs and get into his armored limousine parked at the curb.

Jerry Parr with President Reagan […] READ MORE

A Famous Photo and Its Sad Backstory

Posted by Michael Putzel • October 09, 2015

Associated Press photographer Sal Veder’s iconic image of a family welcoming its POW dad home from Vietnam has personified the joy of freedom for more than 40 years.

Veder recently retold the story to The Guardian of how he got that Pulitzer Prize-winning image on March 17, 1973, at Travis Air Force Base in California. Bill Dowell, a long-ago colleague of mine, pointed out that the photo hardly hinted at the truth: The day after he was released from more than five years in captivity and before he was flown home to the States, Air Force Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm received a letter from his wife Loretta (2nd from right) telling him their marriage was over. There followed a protracted and bitter dispute between the returned POW and his wife that split the family asunder. […] READ MORE